Flower photography is very popular amongst photographers but it is also a very difficult type of photography because flowers are a small subject and they are sensitive to wind. Even the lightest breeze can create blurred images. A lot of patience is needed when photographing balancing flowers and a few tips can go a long way. At the end of this article I posted a short video to show you what the flowers looked like in their natural surrounding. You'll see, there's nothing glamourous about it.
Separate your subject from its background.
In just a few minutes I was able to capture the elegance and delicacy of this flower. It belongs to a sticky plant, probably a weed, available in most untidy gardens I would imagine. I also tried to capture a variety of backgrounds and sometimes included a little cluster of flowers.
Talking about cluster though, I want to emphasize on the fact that most beginning photographers will stand up in front of flowers, move back a little and photograph a group of them. While it can result in nice images it is not ideal. I prefer to choose one beautiful flower out of a cluster, well formed with a good shape and clean petals. Once I find it I position myself so I 'separate' it from its background. By separating your subject (beautiful flower) from its background (wall, soil, leaves, other plants...) you then make sure that your subject is the star of your images.
How do you separate your subject from its background?
I usually try to blur the background so instead of seeing the detail in the leaves they become just a blurred green mass. In the photo below there is no detail in the background leaves. Even the other flowers are blurred to a certain degree. This is achieved by using the right aperture on your camera. You can also achieve similar results using the 'flower' icon on your camera - this is a preset for close-up photography.
In order to create better separation I then positioned myself in a way that no other flower was directly behind the main flower in the foreground. Having another flower with the same colour directly behind, even if blurred a little, would have created visual confusion. That's when you need to lower yourself at the same level as the flower, then move slightly to the left of right and see the difference.
I applied the same tips to the chive flowers below. Very beautiful flowers too, and very small as well. They are also in my garden at the back of the house.
Finally, notice how all those images were taken in the shade. Diffused light will help create soft and detailed images of flowers, and emphasize the colours. It is always tempted to shoot in the sun but with flowers it's best to wait for some shade or cloudy days.
In the short video below you can see what the sticky plant looked like when I photographed it. You can see there is a lot of wind so patience while working fast is key here:
Not all cameras are equal of course but the most important here is the lens and your creativity. For this set of images I used my 85mm lens. This is not a close-up lens so I had to move back a little so the lens could focus. It is only afterwards, in post-processing, that I cropped my photos. The two photographs below are exactly the same but the second one was cropped tightly.
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